Australian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jessica Newham grew up in Sydney, but headed to the U.S. as a teen to attend a performing-arts school in Michigan and then the Berklee College of Music in Boston. She began playing live when she was just 16 and then, channeling popular ’80s influences and synth pop reminiscent of M83 and MGMT, started releasing music as Betty Who just a few years later. After early buzz for a pair of acclaimed EPs and opening for Katy Perry’s Down Under tour, her debut full-length, Take Me When You Go (stream it below), arrived in 2014. Betty Who (above, the video for “Mama Say”) returned this past spring with her sophomore effort, The Valley (stream it below), which has a more modern sound, but is as life-affirming as her other work. Catch her life-affirming music live tomorrow night at Brooklyn Steel. Another synth-pop act, Geographer, opens.
Tag Archives: Geographer
Stars/Geographer – The Bowery Ballroom – October 5, 2015
Two of the most charming acts around these days played to a crowd full of beaming faces last night at The Bowery Ballroom. Stars and Geographer are touring North America together this fall as one big dose of feverish pop goodness. Geographer began the night with some crowd favorites, including “Life of Crime,” “I’m Ready,” “Kites” and a vibrant rendition of Arthur Russell’s “This Is How We Walk on the Moon.” By throwing in live saxophone here and there, Mike Deni and his band amped up their free-spirited music, and the accents of an electric cello made the set more whimsical.
The disco ball lowered for Stars’ set, and bright neon lights filled the stage as they launched into one of their earliest hits, “Your Ex-Lover Is Dead.” The Canadian band has eight full-length albums and a decade of making music together, and their charming-yet-fatalistic lyrics are etched in the collective consciousness of their steadfast fan base. Throughout their performance, Stars relied on the audience to sing the choruses, visibly feeding off the crowd’s energy, and lead singers Amy Millan and Torq Campbell repeatedly reached out to touch fans in the front row.
Campbell went so far as to jump into the arms of an extra-zealous fan. The band doled out some early favorites from their discography, including campfire versions of “Elevator Love Letter” and “Today Will Be Better, I Swear.” Campbell waxed poetic between songs about vulnerability, love and the inevitability of death, and he beckoned the audience to “put your hands up because everybody dies.” After their set was over, Stars came back onstage for a short encore and finished the night with the supremely melancholic ballad “Dead Hearts.” Last night’s sold-out house proved that Stars haven’t lost their sparkle. To the contrary, their fans are as devoted as ever. —Schuyler Rooth | @SchuylerSpeak
Tags: Amy Millan, Arthur Russell, Bowery Ballroom, Geographer, Live Music, Mike Deni, Music, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Schuyler Rooth, Stars, Torq Campbell
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Geographer/GRMLN – The Bowery Ballroom – August 24, 2013
It was clear that everyone at a sold-out Bowery Ballroom had high expectations for indie-rock trio Geographer and post-punk outfit GRMLN to grant some euphoria on a late-summer Saturday night. GRMLN delivered a brief but sensational set that provided the perfect introduction to Geographer. Hot on the heels of the release of their new album, Empire, GRMLN have teamed up with Geographer for an extensive American tour. Frontman Yoodoo Park had us nodding and jumping around like giddy teenagers.
Geographer have been keeping a low profile and recording new material for their next album, and as they took the stage, frontman Michael Deni saluted the audience, saying, “We’re happy to be playing our first headlining show in NYC!” They opened with crowd-favorite “Life of Crime.” The performance then unfolded with renditions of “Paris,” “Blinders” (with the special addition of Tim Cronin on trumpet), “Myth” and “Kaleidoscope.” “Dance with me, New York,” coaxed Deni as everyone swayed and sang along to “Lover’s Game” and “Kites.”
The room went dark and several people pulled out lighters during the haunting ballad “The Boulder,” causing the venue to glow as Deni’s voice echoed mournfully and the distorted sounds of cello and synthesizers grazed our ears. “Verona” got us dancing again, and we weren’t ready for the set to be over, so we cheered the band back onstage for an encore. They delivered a smooth cover of Arthur Russell’s “This Is How We Walk on the Moon” in which Deni pulled out a saxophone. The show closed with an especially synth-heavy “Original Sin” with Deni high-fiving people in the crowd. —Schuyler Rooth